Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some Truths About Anxiety

I'm tired.

It seems to be my automatic response these days.

"How are you?"
"Fine. Tired."

It's simply the best answer I can give. I'm not getting a ton of sleep. I mean, I am here blogging when I have to be awake in five hours and fifty-four minutes.

But it's not just that.


Whenever I blog about my anxiety, I feel guilty. I shouldn't, because it's not as if I'm forcing anyone to sit down and read. I'm not even convinced that anyone really does. But there's something about putting my weaknesses down for the world to see that makes me feel like I shouldn't do it.

Unless I can make it funny. Like the fully-clothed shower I took during the Great Flea Wars of 2010. That was funny, and so I wrote about it.

I'm not feeling particularly funny right now, though. Mostly... just tired.


It's just been one of those weeks. My world got rocked a little when I found myself sitting in the middle of my Russian class - my FAVORITE class with my favorite professor - suddenly overcome with this feeling of dread. I knew what it was, of course. The dizziness, the nausea, the sudden onset rapid heartbeat. The overwhelming urge to get up and run screaming from the room combined with the fear that if I stood up, my knees wouldn't hold me. I know panic attacks. And I know how they work. They tend to come without warning. They're really very politically correct things... completely non-discriminate. Any time, any place, with or without some kind of trigger. They don't care. Despite knowing this, I think I felt that Russian was some kind of safe zone.

After all, I usually spend the class period walking on clouds.

And I ALWAYS pay attention to Dr Garza. Just ask any of my friends, who tease me relentlessly over my knowledge-crush.

But honestly, I couldn't tell you the first thing about what he said on Tuesday afternoon. Frustrating not only because we are now doing prepositional plural possessive pronouns (say that five times fast) and the work is getting increasingly difficult, but also because I've lost that feeling of "nothing can go wrong here."

And for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

And I know that there is no why.

And that drives me a little crazy.


I want to go to Moscow next summer. The program is amazing. Five and a half weeks of being taught Russian in Moscow. Exploring the city. Experiencing the culture.

Staying in a dorm. With a roommate. Eating strange food. Experiencing a communication barrier on a massive scale.

It's a little terrifying too, on a personal level and on an anxiety disorder level.

I started thinking about things that could happen. What if it's dirty? What about the fact that I hate to shake hands? Isn't that a big deal in Moscow? What if there are no academic accommodations and I fail all of my courses because I have to use Scantron sheets to take the exams and I can't do them fast enough? Do they even know what OCD is? Do I know how to explain it do them? What if I have a bad panic attack and end up in a Russian hospital because someone assumes that I'm in need of medical attention and I don't know how to explain to them that I'll be fine?

Something tells me that would not me an all together pleasant experience.

Don't know why I think that.

Really. Can't IMAGINE why.

Of course, I could just be obsessing. I am prone to worry.


So I e-mailed my professor to ask about mental health in Russia. It was a legitimate thing to do. Crazy as some of my what-if scenarios are, I do need to have some general idea of what to expect. It's just good sense to plan for the contingencies.

Not that they'd keep me from going either way, mind you. That's not what I'm about. But I do like to be prepared.

It helps me know how much Xanax to pack.

So I sent this e-mail.

And I haven't gotten a response.

I know there is a legitimate reason for this. Paper grading, hundreds of other e-mails, being generally busy with life. The season premier of Glee, which my professor apparently watches.

I don't. But that's another blog topic.

Point is, I know that it's irrational to want a response immediately.

But I kind of do.

Because while I'm waiting, I find myself feeling guilty - because I talked about my mental health issues. And then feeling terribly afraid that perhaps I shouldn't have said anything. And then wondering if maybe I'm being judged. And wondering if what I wrote will make my professor like me less. (God, needy much? It's not just him though - it's any time I write about anxiety. In fact, I'm sure I'll feel all of these things as soon as I post this thread.)

And then I think, if he doesn't respond, I'll lose a little respect for him. And that would be sad.

And then I think that I'm an idiot for even worrying about this, because, for God's sake, it's not as if I've written to reveal I'm secretly a serial killer and would like to know if he could recommend some new victims.

It's a vicious, irrational cycle.

But I'm still checking my e-mail inbox every twenty minutes.


Whenever I admit that I feel guilty about talking about anxiety, I also immediately feel hypocritical. I am, after all, the poster child for being "out" about anxiety disorders.

Admittedly, that's a lot easier when you're not in the middle of it.

I'm having some issues with washing right now. My hands aren't bad yet, but they're starting to show a little wear and tear. I caught myself hiding them earlier today, right after washing, because they were red.

Then I felt guilty and hypocritical.

I'm coming to realize that for me, being out doesn't mean that I'm not still just as insecure as the next person.

I still worry about what people will think. Sometimes, I'm still embarrassed. Sometimes, I just don't don't want to talk about it.

I'm simply not ashamed of it anymore. And sometimes, I look at all the things I've accomplished in spite of it, and I actually feel pretty darn good about myself.


Tonight in the improv class that I was signed up to take, I had to pull aside our instructor and tell him that I couldn't deal with everybody trying to touch me. All the high-five-y, huggy, touchy-feely, playing games that required me to be boxed in on all sides by people in a very small room.

I hate being boxed in.

He dealt with it. The class became immediately less terrifying.

But it was still kind of awkward and uncomfortable. It was still improv. Just not improv in which I felt the urge to run out screaming and wash my hands.


I do a ton of work for OCD. I facilitate the local group. I'm working on a campus group. I sit as the Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Texas IOCDF affiliate.

Sometimes I feel like my whole life is OCD. And that's BEFORE I remember that I actually have the disorder.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not spend all of my spare time immersing myself in the disorder that I'm told I'll have for the rest of my life. Sometimes I think that all of the work I do is just a way to make myself feel better about being stuck with OCD.

Most of the time though, I'm pretty excited about everything we're doing. I'm proud. I can't wait to see where we're going and really, I love the work. It's something that I'm good at. It's something that I'm supposed to be doing.

But when my own OCD flares, and I start having weeks like this one, I feel a bit tired.


It's really just one of those weeks. Don't get me wrong. Soon I'll be posting about all the progress we're making at OCD TEXAS. I'll write to talk about our big meeting. I'll write to say that I never feel more competent than after I've facilitated a group meeting.

Tonight, though, that's not where I am.

Tonight, I'm tired. And anxious. And tired of being anxious. And tired of being tired. 


I desperately need to go to bed. But the guilt of writing about this is already setting in.

Of course, I only have seven readers. *grin* And most of you already know me.

Ultimately though, as I was reminded of in a post over at Twinsanity, I have to write what speaks to me. So love it or leave it, this is what I've got.

Tomorrow, we'll tackle foreign aid policy and my views on the environment.

Or, you know. I'll go back to being more or less entertaining. After all, with prepositional possessive plural pronouns, who knows what embarrassing language blunders I'll make this week!


** Photos done by Kelly at Dances With Chaos. Ain't she swell?


  1. I love those new pictures of you! Hope you feel better. We missed you today during the play day. :)